Saints fail to overcome key injuries in Hemel defeat

Lee Chappell and goalkeeper Tom Coulton can't stop Ollie Hawkins from scoring Hemel Hempstead's firs

Lee Chappell and goalkeeper Tom Coulton can't stop Ollie Hawkins from scoring Hemel Hempstead's first goal on New Year's Day. Picture: Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

St Albans City failed to overcome key injuries as they slipped behind Hemel Hempstead Town in the Vanarama Conference South table.

Captain James Comley, goalkeeper Joe Welch and top-scorer John Frendo were all ruled out of New Year’s Day’s 3-1 loss to the Tudors at Vauxhall Road. Welch’s replacement Tom Coulton, who is just back from injury, could do little to deny Ollie Hawkins from opening the scoring after the Saints failed to clear a corner.

Hemel skipper Jordan Parkes scored a second with a fierce drive from 25 yards against the run of play to give the visitors a mountain to climb. In the second half, Cameron Lancaster made the first step towards earning a point, heading in Steve Wales’ cross, but the Tudors added another through Dennis Oli to leap above St Albans in the league for the first time since the opening day of the season.

The result brought the Saints’ points total of the Christmas break to one from three games - they drew with Hemel on Boxing Day and lost to Sutton on December 28 - and sees them start 2015 in the bottom half of the table.

Joint managers James Gray and Graham Golds will be hoping for home comforts over the next two weeks as they have three league games at Clarence Park. They will not be easy, though, as fourth-placed Gosport Borough’s visit on Sunday (December 4) is followed by league leaders Boreham Wood a week later (December 10).

The run of home games ends when City entertain Concord Rangers on December 17. Concord knocked St Albans out of this year’s FA Cup - they lost to Mansfield Town in a first round replay - and are into the second round proper of the FA Trophy after smashing Barnet 6-2 at the Hive.

Danny Cowley’s side are currently below St Albans, in 14th, but won their last outing, beating Bromley 1-0 away from home.